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No worries on the timeframe issue. I'm very much about valuing the appearance of every thing when it happens. Schedules are great for generating personal productivity, but I think they invite us to make irrational extrapolations about the systems beyond us ... and more importantly, to not enjoy the occasion of what is before us.
Glad you found the Pascal quote worth chewing on, at least. I can see your friend's viewpoint, but I'm really more with you on this one. Not caring "about anything" works well when you have your basic needs met: physical, mental, emotional, social. Sure, not obsessing about the little stuff is great if you're not starving or something. Addressing Maslow's hierarchy is always a worthy quest.
Options are like so much else, where too few and too many are equally maddening. I think it's wonderful to have a great many opportunities, but it lures most of us into the squandering of our most vital resources. I guess it was Ferriss who elocuted this thing I already felt on a deep level -- that in fact our most basic resource is focus, and that therefore, anything which invites us to undermine that resource, even through second-guessing, should be suspected.
That said, I really get your bad habit, as I've wrestled with my own version of it for a long time. I have spun in circles jet propelled by multiplying potentials, only to then find myself exhausted, having accomplished nothing. I've also struck on some really great ideas in these states, so I guess nothing's cut and dried. Still, the satisfaction of closure, artificially defined though it usually is, still builds a sound momentum into my pursuit and accomplishment of projects. Something within me responds really well to this "appearance of progress," much though I might shake my head at my own response.
Something I'm trying for right now, in order to work against the disease of exponential multitasking, FOMO, and the general dissolution of consciousness therewithin: to do only one thing, ever, at a time. And if possible, occasionally, to do less than one thing. This is hardest, but if done deeply, is best.
All of your ideas sound great, and like great fun! Just don't let them fight over you. I look forward to hearing which one you're working on.
Alaskan ice-cream! I didn't realize it was a thing. Sounds like coals to Newcastle, a bit, but hey ... nowhere it would be easier to make, I suppose. Thanks for weighing in on Homer! Wanna get there. What's your Alaskan Shangrila, if you had to choose?
Thanks for this. I connect with your descriptions of the ache of disconnection, even though my situations are all different. I'm rich in friends, even though most of them are scattered so far, and that is its own kind of different pain. Ibuprofen for social pain makes good sense, though I'd never thought of it before. It seems inflammation is the problem regardless, doesn't matter if the trigger is externally or internally initiated. I've been consuming turmeric paste in my coffee to combat inflammation, rhodiola rosea when I need a sanguine shot of energy, and kava kava when I need to chill. It does well enough most of the time.
I really enjoyed that How To Be Alone video. It's beautiful, and contains lots of helpful stuff in it, threads from some of the best traditions which promote solitude. I'm thinking of that Pascal quote right now, “All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone," though I think he was selling it from the negative, rather than positive side. The Buddhist version sees the solitude as the link to the real source of connection, beyond people. That's present in some Christian mystics' thought as well. Not sure if it's what Pascal was getting at though. Regardless, we need a functional web of social interconnection whenever we leave the cell of solitude, meditation, prayer, what have you. That web's not there on its own though, and I find myself hamfistedly trying to pretend it is, or weave together a few inches of it. Playing music with strangers has been the best catalyst for unexpected connection lately.
Are you an Alaskan currently? I've never been, but I have a friend who moved out to Homer. He tells me it's one of the best places on earth.
If you make your facebook ad, let me know. I'd like to see it. You should cc: the guy who wrote the guardian article too, if you do.
Well, I'm a little bit late to this party, but I've really enjoyed A Void. Thanks for sharing, and for bringing it to my attention, as I had totally missed its arrival. The story definitely pulled me in, and along throughout, and I very much enjoyed the progression through different media of storytelling, from 3rd person narrative to excerpted document to journal entry. I also really enjoy the progression from matter of fact realist narrative, where we begin, to something far more whimsical-feeling in terms of content (although the realist style of account remains constant throughout), which actually echoes of Borges, to my ear. I think he's someone who frequently combines fabulist content with the realist tone ... as you would expect in anyone sometimes credited with fathering magical realism. Although, a further credit to your story, given what we know about space, blackholes, etc., the content of your story isn't really at all fabulist -- just unprecedented, as far as we know. Nice work, and thanks again for sharing! More thoughts to follow, perhaps via e-vox?
Hmmm ... now that would be a tough project. So many people to think of. I might have to pick one I've already written, if I had one with enough genuine warmth and hope worthy of sharing with all of my friends and family. I think Embrace, which I sent you last month, might be the best candidate so far.
I did play one of my songs at a friend's funeral once. Very surreal experience. It wasn't about death, or about him in any way, just a song he had always really liked. He passed really suddenly though, I think you remember the time? And when I and his mutual friends were planning the service, they asked me to play a song for him, and that was the only one I had any reason to pick. You know it well, I think?
Personally, picking from others' tunes, I could probably go a bunch of different ways, but njósnavélin by Sigur Rós would be today's pick.
I loved this account ... well, in the sense that I was also terrified by it. It's interesting ... I expect that the distraction was already there at that time, but that time was still much less subdivided. Moments, entire hours, evenings, could pass by without interruption, I imagine. It's not as if telegraphs didn't occasionally break up a scene. They were much more costly to send than texts, though, I think.
Persons' energies were already very much distracted though -- distracted by self-definition, narrative, recrimination, the vanquishing of imaginary foes. Still, destructive as all of this must have been to serenity, technology has brought in another layer of stultification. The constant end-of-scene/thought/conversation sponsored by phone/text/tweet/commercial break has, I think, introduced a whole new level of consciousness demolition. That's why escaping interruption, however costly it may be, is an increasingly crucial transgression.
This _is_ really good and instructive, so much so that I have to ask follow up questions. There are surely many different types of meditation, and I think that not just the means, but also the goals, can be widely divergent. From some things you've said, it sounds like this is the case with our respective experiences/intentions, and so I'm curious.
In particular, you mention that your goal that became clear was the understanding of your mind. The purpose of my chosen style of meditation is not any kind of learning, or gaining knowledge, (although discoveries do invariably occur) or in the doing of anything, in fact. Rather, it is an active pursuit of non-doing, to borrow from the Taoists (I think). The non-doing is not the end in itself, but rather, is the vehicle to transcending the sphere of the self, to tapping into the state where my self is indistinguishable from the what-else-that-there-is. And this all sounds rather abstract, of course, since I'm trying to say it, but the experience is really that of bliss, of deep connection, and resolution.
So, yes, it does facilitate relaxation and de-stressing, but that is really just an inevitable consequence of tapping into sources/underlying realities, as I have experienced it.
But what I want to ask you is this: what kind of knowledge of the self can be harvested in your style of meditation? And what, if you are willing to discuss, are its methods?
Regarding the crutch, I think that's apt. However, I would also like to point out how incredibly useful crutches can be for those with atrophied muscles/lack of skillsets. Training wheels might be another apt metaphor. They get you going fast enough so that two wheels is all you'll ever need thereafter. The important thing is remembering to take them off when they start to become a hindrance, rather than an aid.
In my experience, guided meditations (whether app or audio file or live) can really go one way or another. Some create that extra layer ooli is talking about, making it even harder to escape the thought-snarl, and some surgically detach you from it. Not sure, but probably that style which functions best for one depends upon one. Sam Harris's deployment is some of the most effective I've experienced, personally.
It makes good sense to me, though, that guided meditation COULD work wonders for the one meditating, whether beginner or experienced. As near as I can science my way through this, when it works, it works by engaging the language centers of the brain. These same language centers might otherwise be spooling out an endless torrent of thought, drama, narrative, analysis, and all the rest of that which obscures the bliss of being in the present moment. The guided meditation, if executed deftly, occupies these centers without arousing criticism or accelerating the thought stream. In this sense, in my opinion, it performs the same primary function of the mantra, which drives other words off the tongue/mind by occupying that space, and thereby prevents more complex thought-forms from building in the mindspace. It's much the same principle by which drishti organizes vision and focus in yoga.
Anyhow, that's how it all shakes out for me. I frequently meditate in silence, but as silence is so hard to come by, and also for their many wonderful properties, I frequently meditate to the accompaniment of the singing bowls -- and if the mantra/guide feels absent, toning works well too. Here's a few tracks I have really benefited from:
This guy does some great composite crystal singing bowl tracks:
Emile de Leon gives you 70 minutes, all 7 chakras!
Don't really know if others share these leaps I've offered, but I owe my extrapolations to a great segment on Radiolab concerning language and bliss, and numerous conversations with my behaviorist colleague. Happy transcending.